SYTYCD's Courtney Galiano Discusses Dancing Into Adulthood

Courtney Galiano, is one of those amazing women that got started early and never slowed down to nap. When faced with leaving high school and pushing dance into the grown-up drawer labeled "hobby," she refused. Instead she started college AND joined the New York Knicks dance team. A couple of years later she drove to an audition for So You Think You Can Dance Season 4 and made the cut. She's since returned as an All-Star, had spots on oodles of shows on Nickelodeon and Disney, gotten busy with a few movies and had a three-show speaking role on Glee. Did I mention that she's 24?

We caught up with Galiano over the phone at her home in LA where she has a few days to recharge. She's a machine gun of positive energy, rattling out goals and successes and tips for dealing with life's obstacles. She'd make a great voice-activated doll, giving young girls quick pops of encouragement like "try your best and there's no reason to be disappointed!" She'll be in Dallas this weekend teaching the area's aspiring dancers how to get the most out of their time in the studio and prepare them for future auditions with her huge, two-day dance training workshop, The Beat.

Mixmaster: You got started with everything at such a young age; weren't you dancing for the Knicks at 18? When I was a Senior in high school all of the other girls were quitting dance or just making it a hobby, but I wasn't ready to! When I was younger I'd gone to some Knicks games and it had always stuck with me. I remembered that they weren't just girls that shook around and danced; they were talented, well-trained, amazingly crafty women. So I joined. I started asking them, "so this is what you do for a living? You get to dance?" And they said "yeah." As the baby of the group, they took me under their wing and guided me. Then they pointed me in the direction of an agency.

And that's when you went for So You Think You Can Dance? Looking back, it's kind of nuts. I auditioned when I was 19 and then I turned 20 on the first episode of the show. It was a pretty amazing birthday present.

What capacity are you still serving for SYTYCD? You were already brought back as an All-Star. Yes! Well I just got back from helping with the choreography audition. And it was really awesome getting to be an All-Star for Season 7; [those of us who were brought back] know what this group is going through -- we've been there, so getting to help them and see them through their journey has been great.

What exactly is entailed for the choreography audition? How does that work? When they audition one of three things happens: either they are sent home to train for another year; they're sent straight to Vegas; or they're sent to the choreography audition. So let's say there's a bboy who's great in doing his own stuff, but they want to see him do other styles, they might send him to the choreography audition. It's a fusion of all different types of dance -- latin, hip hop, modern etc. That's all put in one routine that they have an hour to learn. So what happens is they'll audition and the judges decide whether they should train and come back next year or if they should go straight to Vegas. How has being on SYTYCD changed or directed your career? It's definitely opened up a lot of doors. And I've always loved teaching so now I've been able to start my own company with The Beat.

Tell me a little about The Beat. Was it your brainchild or were you approached and asked to be the face of it? Oh it's all me, and my family. It's been so rewarding because I've filled the whole show with my friends and family. Comfort Fedoke (Season 4 SYTYCD) is from Dallas so I said "let's bring her in and get her back home!" and now she's a choreographer. We brought in Jeff Thacker, the Co-Executive Producer of So You Think You Can Dance, who does an audition workshop. My brother is my business partner, my mom is selling the tee shirts and my dad is manning the registration table. I've always loved to travel and teach and I still love to dance as much as I did when I was ten! It's perfect.

I read that you had a role on Glee, what was your character like? Yes! It was the first three episodes in this last season and I played this super tough cookie, which was super fun. It was nice to play the bad girl which is so not me in real life. It's one of the best jobs I've ever had.

So you sing, too? In this industry you have to be super well-rounded so I was taking singing lessons for a while. I can hold a tune but I won't be going out for a Broadway lead anytime soon.

Read our article about Courtney's dance workshop The Beat here and sign up here. You can take a full-weekend or classes a la carte.

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